Explainer: Sticking points at the U.N. climate conference

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By Reuters
Explainer-Sticking points at the U.N. climate conference
Explainer-Sticking points at the U.N. climate conference   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Nina Chestney</p> <p><span class="caps">LONDON</span> – Representatives from nearly 200 countries will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 for climate talks to strengthen action to tackle global warming under the 2015 Paris Agreement. </p> <p>Amid extreme weather events around the world and following a United Nations’ climate report which warned that global warming was close to spiralling out of control, the actions of governments at this conference will determine whether it is a success.</p> <p>Here are some of the issues which need to be resolved:</p> <p><span class="caps">EMISSIONS</span> <span class="caps">CUT</span> <span class="caps">PLEDGES</span></p> <p>Six years ago in Paris, countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and ideally 1.5C. To do this, emissions need to be cut in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by around mid-century.</p> <p>As the U.N. conference was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year is the deadline for countries to make steeper emissions cut pledges (called nationally determined contributions or <span class="caps">NDC</span>s). </p> <p>A U.N. analysis of new or revised <span class="caps">NDC</span>s submitted by the end of July found that by 2030, those 113 countries would together lower their emissions by 12% from 2010 levels.</p> <p>But the available <span class="caps">NDC</span>s of all 191 parties of the Paris Agreement combined equate to a 16% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared to 2010, it said.</p> <p>Around 120 countries have so far submitted revised <span class="caps">NDC</span>s, but there is a lack of consistency with no common timeframe for realising pledges. There are also a variety of approaches in the <span class="caps">NDC</span>s, making comparability difficult.</p> <p>Negotiators also need to agree on common timeframes for future emissions cuts.</p> <p>Major emitters China, India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – together responsible for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions – have not yet come forward with strengthened <span class="caps">NDC</span>s and need to do so at this conference, known as COP26.</p> <p><span class="caps">FINANCE</span></p> <p>As far back as 2009, developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the impacts of climate change.</p> <p>However, the most recent data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (<span class="caps">OECD</span>) shows that in 2019, developed nations’ governments raised $79.6 billion for vulnerable countries, up 2% from $78.3 billion in 2018.</p> <p>As rich nations are not meeting the $100 billion a year goal, it can break down trust at the climate talks, experts say. And a new finance goal needs to be worked out for 2025 onwards.</p> <p><span class="caps">LOSS</span> <span class="caps">AND</span> <span class="caps">DAMAGE</span> </p> <p>Governments agreed to address the impact of climate change on developing countries but there is no detail about liability or compensation, a bone of contention for many poorer countries.</p> <p>A platform to enable technical assistance for vulnerable countries was established in 2019 but developing nations want a more robust mechanism to include financing. </p> <p><span class="caps">FOSSIL</span> <span class="caps">FUELS</span> </p> <p>The UK COP26 president, Alok Sharma, has said he wants this conference to be the one where coal power is consigned to history.</p> <p>The U.N. has called for phasing out coal by 2030 in <span class="caps">OECD</span> countries but environment ministers from the Group of 20 big economies have failed to agree a timeline.</p> <p><span class="caps">ARTICLE</span> 6</p> <p>Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which covers the role of carbon markets, has not been resolved since the pact was struck. Progress on it broke down at the last talks in 2019.</p> <p>The article calls for “robust accounting” to avoid “double counting” of emissions reductions. It also aims to establish a central U.N. mechanism to trade carbon credits from emissions reductions generated from low-carbon projects.</p> <p/> </div>